Quick mention on the methods - I've grouped data together by two years wide, in order to make the data a little smoother. This means the 24 and 25 year olds were lumped together, 26 and 27 year olds and so on. Master's folks - you make an appearence in the data! I collected the data from the first two masters divisions (since they do the same Rxed workout), and plotted them here. At the extreme ends, data isn't plotted because there's not enough athletes. Note: I also apologize for the rough plots and text, I'll try to clean things up a bit better and add the percentile scores on the charts a little later.
Looking at the plots below for each workout (for men), the first striking point is how the curves are all very similar to each other, from the general shape to where the peak of performance exists. In men, across every workout, peak performance is near the age of 24, in elites (blue) and median athletes (red). If you look closer at some plots though, you can begin to see subtle differences between each workout. The 'peak' of workout 4 in the elites is especially prominent. I surmise the muscle up becomes increasingly more difficult with age than compared to other exercises. Does that suggest power (heavily required for the muscle up), over strength, is the first aspect of fitness that we lose as we age? Or is the data explained by some other reason?
|Male performances for CrossFit open workouts 11.1-4 across different ages. Elites (blue), medians (red). Singing: "... if I could turn back time...". Okay, really lame out of place Cher reference. Sorry.|
In contrast, overall the plots for female athletes seem less dramatic, or less 'peaky' for some reason. Looking back at workout 4, the elite females are fairly flat across age, maybe because the muscle up was so difficult, that only the very best performers could muster the muscle up. Even with that workout as an exception, the curves have a much flatter appearance. I wonder if the physiological effects of age on women are somewhat dampened compared to men. Hey, who's to say which sex ages more gracefully?
|Are things less 'peaky' over here?|
On a last point, I'd like to address an issue that I haven't done a good job of in previous posts - that a vast majority of performance cannot be explained by all the biometrics - height, weight, age... etc. My suspicion is that even if I had more biologic measurements (leg/torso ratio, arm length, noggin size to toss out a couple of ridiculous possibilities), we could not explain all the variance, mainly because the main factor determining differences in athletes is pretty simple - fitness.
The performance plot below serves to demonstrate. Here, I've selected upon the most common male athlete in the open (175 pounds, 5'10", and 28 years old) and plotted the distribution of their overall rank percentiles. Notice there is still a large range of possible scores!
The bigger picture of crossfit shouldn't be forgotten among the comparison charts. Get out there and improve yourself! Stop reading this nerdy blog... okay okay... continue to read this blog. Get stronger, work on lifts, feel good that you're accomplishing something you couldn't do before! For the most people out there, certainly myself included, the downward slope on the age shouldn't be scary - we still have a lot of upward potential.
|Biometrics can't explain everything. There's still huge variation in performance (that is, fitness) among male athletes around 180 pounds, 5'10", aged 28.|